Tomatoes and Memories

Photo by Doug DeMoss

(Story about my Mom and gardening begins in the second paragraph.) Believe it or not, this week wasn’t all about books! The tomatoes in my garden are coming in fast and heavy, and I did a lot of canning this week. I haven’t posted about canning much, but I do enjoy water bath and pressure canning when I get a chance. This week I had to take time off work to keep up with these tomatoes, and on two different days I put up about 20 quarts, 5 pints of tomatoes, and five half-pints of green tomato jam (lemony and delicious, I promise). I still have more tomatoes to can, so I’m thinking about spicy ketchup or tomato chutney of some kind. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

I have been canning off and on for years, but there is a story behind these tomatoes that make them mean so much to me. My mom was an avid and gifted gardener. She grew up in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1930s/40s with eleven brothers and sisters, and a Dad who was a farmer and logger. She helped out in the house, and and she also helped her Mom can the garden bounty in a washtub out in the yard over an open fire, as they did not yet have electricity. Mom moved to Cincinnati when she married my Dad and we lived in a poorer suburb, but she always had a magnificent garden. My whole life growing up we had garden vegetables in the summer and home-canned vegetables in the winter. I never thought much about it, but we were eating well, despite being a family of 10 in a three-bedroom house..

When my Dad retired, he and my Mom moved back to those North Carolina mountains and she had a garden for the 20 years they were able to stay there. She always had home-canned green beans, tomatoes, and sauerkraut, as well as other vegetables and fruits, and she was happy to give them to her kids. Consequently I still was able to eat home-canned vegetables more than most. When health problems became too much for them, they moved back to Cincinnati so my sister could help them. My Mom immediately started a garden and kept it up, even when her health began to deteriorate. My Dad had dementia and heart problems, and passed in 2019.

When my Mom died suddenly in March 2020, she left behind tomato seedlings she had already started. My brother gathered them and split them up between the siblings. I planted my share of those seedlings, and they didn’t do very well at all. However, I got enough tomatoes to get seeds for this year. This year my husband and I planted the seeds, and the plants have thrived! We call them Granny Tomatoes, because my mom always went by Granny to her many kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. We put in about 20 Granny plants and about 10 Romas, and the bounty has been plentiful, with many more still on the vines. So these tomatoes to me are more than just a garden treat. They are a legacy, one of which I am very proud.

Photo by Doug DeMoss

All of the tomato photos were taken by my husband in our tomato garden, as was the one I put on the main page of this blog.

The first two photos are my Mom (Dorothy Jenkins Zinser) at 16. The original version is on the left and a colorized version is in the middle. On the right is my Mom at almost 88, making sauerkraut in October 2019. She went to Heaven five months later.

Blog Tour and Book Review–The Girl In The Picture

*Book Review Near the Bottom of the Page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

As the newspaper clipping falls from the cardboard box Tegan takes in the woman in the picture: her chestnut hair, her eyes full of laughter, the way she nestles against the man beside her. And as she reads the words in the article, Tegan almost stops breathing. Was coming here a terrible mistake?

When Tegan’s family is torn apart by a terrible tragedy, she runs away in search of somewhere to keep safe from the past that haunts her, and the painful secrets she’s never told anyone. Arriving in Copper Canyon, Colorado, where wooden storefronts line the quiet streets and no-one knows her name, Tegan breathes easy for the first time in years. And when she grows close with Jack, another lost soul who won’t talk about his home, it seems she’s found the perfect companion to explore the mountain landscapes with.

But just as Tegan starts to think maybe safety isn’t a place, it’s a person, she notices the box of photos and newspaper clippings that Jack takes everywhere in the trunk of his car. Who is the woman in every frame? And why does she look so familiar…?

Tegan knows the only way to protect herself, and keep her dark family history locked away, is to discover more about the woman in Jack’s photos. But when she does, will the truth help her build a new life, or will it send her running once more?

An absolutely unforgettable and breathtaking novel about love, loss, and the secrets we’re all hiding. Perfect for fans of Kerry Fisher, Diane Chamberlain, and Kerry Lonsdale.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Wiesner


Melissa Wiesner is a night-owl who began writing novels about five years ago when her early-to-bed family retired for the evening. In 2019, she won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award in the Mainstream Fiction Category for her first novel. Melissa holds two Master’s Degrees in Public Health and Community Agency Counseling. Her day job is in Social Work where she often encounters people knocked down by hard times but who pick themselves up and keep going, just like the characters of her novels. Melissa lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her charming husband and two adorable children.

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BOOK REVIEW

If there is ever a book that is going to speak to me, it will be one about a road trip. I’ve been the queen of road trips many times in my past, so this book was like another trip into memories of my own as I read it. The best books remind you of scenes from your own life, and this one does that for me. The main theme of this book is home. Tegan is searching for a home for herself and her brother. Jack is desperately trying to get back to his family home as he flees horrific memories from his past. Thrown together unexpectedly, they are an unlikely pair. Tegan, abandoned as a child, grew up wanting to be a writer. Jack is a wealthy attorney who is somewhat over-protected by his family. On the road, they grow from annoyance to acceptance to friendship and more. They also find there are lessons they can learn from each other and adventures they can take together.

I loved the fact that we are immediately thrown into Tegan’s life in a dramatic way at the start of the book, and by the time she meets Jack, you will find your heart already racing. The meeting with Jack is a collision of coincidences that starts an unforgettable journey. The road itself becomes almost a character in the story, as some of the situations they encounter can only occur on a long-distance highway adventure. The differences in their lives and personalities help build strength, as Tegan encourages Jack to sway from his well-planned path, and Jack convinces Tegan to use a little more caution. The Girl In The Picture is an emotional and inspirational story of heartbreak, adventure, letting go, and the search for home. It was a beautiful read.

I received a free copy of this novel via the publisher, Bookouture. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

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MY AMAZON REVIEW (“HELPFUL” VOTES APPRECIATED)

Blog Tour and Book Review: When We Were Sisters

*Book Review at the bottom of the page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Two sisters who haven’t spoken for twenty years. One summer to bring a family back together.

Jayne Winters hasn’t seen her sister Charlotte since that last childhood holiday at their grandmother’s North Carolina beach house. Separated after that summer by their parents in a bitter divorce, Charlotte has never forgiven Jayne for not fighting to stay together.

So when Jayne discovers that they have both inherited the beach house, and that their grandmother’s last wish was for them to renovate it together, it feels like a miracle: one last chance to win her sister back.

At first Charlotte will barely speak to her. But slowly the memories of swimming races and storytelling in their attic bedroom looking over the sea start to break down the wall between them. With the help of photographs and letters left by their grandmother for them to find, the two women begin to restore not just the creaking mahogany staircase and the faded antique wallpaper, but their own relationship.

But then Jayne discovers that Charlotte has kept a heart-stopping secret from their past from her. Can she find it in her heart to forgive her sister and keep their grandmother’s dream of reuniting them alive—or are some wounds too big to heal?

An emotional and uplifting read about sisters, secrets and the family bonds that hold us together no matter how complicated they are, from the bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper. Fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe will love this.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cynthia Ellingsen is an Amazon Charts bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction. Her books feature heartwarming characters and strong family connections, often with a touch of mystery. The Starlight Cove series, her best-known work, is available on audio and has been translated into several languages.

Cynthia began her writing career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles and now lives in Kentucky with her family.

Contact Cynthia on Social Media: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter

BOOK REVIEW

Brought back together by their Grandmother’s will and last wishes, sisters Charlotte and Jayne, separated by divorcing parents when they were young, reunite to renovate her old beach house. As paint is chipped away and walls torn down, so are feelings and barriers, as they confront long-held secrets and memories. Their grandmother has hidden letters and remembrances throughout the house. Will her dying wish and carefully planned treasure hunt bring them back together?

This is a sweet summer read about sisters, secrets, and the importance of loved ones. The story flowed so well I read it in one sitting. It is a story of two sisters who have endured separation, rejection, and loss due to the actions of their parents. This novel emphasizes the importance of family, with all its complications and flaws. Full of heartbreak and secrets, but also love and hope, When We Were Sisters shows us how the strings that bind us with our loved ones are still present, even across time and distance.

Four and a half stars, rounded up to five on sites without a half-star option.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Self-Published Saturday: June 26, 2021

Happy Saturday! My choice for Self-Published Saturday this week is a wonderful book by Grace Mattioli called The Bird That Sang in Color. It’s a gorgeously written novel about finding true meaning in life. As always, just a reminder that self-published authors have to do it all. Their job does not stop at writing the book. They are in charge of cover design, marketing, finances, budget, and everything else. Your support means so much to them, so if you do buy the book, please remember to leave a review. Reviews are crucial for self-published authors.

The Bird That Sang in Color is the saga of a family dealing with death, conflict, grief, alcoholism, and depression. Donna’s father is an alcoholic and she carries that into her married life to Frank, who has a problem with alcohol as well. Donna is devoted to her children and her brother Vince, a talented musician and artist. Donna has long encouraged Vince to get a “real” job, a house, and the other trappings of success, but Vince continues to go his own way. After Vince’s death, Donna finds a picture book in which Vince has drawn different scenes from his life. For Donna, this shows the truth about Vince’s life, and also about hers.

Though the beginning started out a little slowly for me, this is a fascinating story that asks tough questions. What is success really about? Who is really dead and who is really alive? What is real happiness? Do material things make you happy, and are they fitting substitutes for joy and passion? What makes you truly happy? Most importantly, this book asks the reader to look inside themselves to see their own life pictures, assess their lives, and decide what is important and what is not. And for that, it gets five stars.

Kindle Unlimited members can download this book for free or you can purchase the Kindle version for only 2.99.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Grace Mattioli

Grace Mattioli is the author of two novels–Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees and Discovery of an Eagle, and a book of short stories, The Brightness Index. Her forthcoming novel, The Bird that Sang in Color, will be released January 17, 2021.

Her fiction is filled with unforgettable characters, artful prose, humor, and insight about what it takes to be truly happy.  She strongly believes that if people were happier, the world would be a better place.

She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her cats. She worked as a librarian for over twenty years and has had various other job titles, including jewelry designer, food cart owner, shopkeeper, book seller, substitute teacher, art school model, natural grocery store clerk, short order cook, food server, street vendor, barista, and a giant Twinkie! 

She has been writing creatively since she was a child and has participated in various writing workshops and classes. Her favorite book is Alice in Wonderland. Her favorite author is Flannery O’Connor. Her favorite line of literature comes from James Joyce’s novella, The Dead:  “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

LINKS TO BUY THE BIRD THAT SANG IN COLOR

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MY AMAZON REVIEW (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

Additional Reminder: If you read this book, make sure and leave a review.

Sick Days and Smiles

Harold (top) and Hermann (lower level)

Harold loves his brother Hermann and likes to be as close to him as possible. Here’s a double decker of dachshunds. Next to them on the couch and out of the picture is me, recuperating from some kind of nasty bug I picked up over the weekend. I’m definitely not ready for the camera. I have been sick for five days, but my husband and the pups are keeping me company. The doctors don’t know what I have, but I have a list of symptoms as long as my arm. They tested me for Covid even though I had the vaccine. They also tested for flu and strep. All negative. So they sent me home with some antibiotics, some steroids, and a shrug. I’ll probably never know what it is, but it’s the second sickest I’ve ever been. I was too sick to read for a couple of days. Now I have even more reading to catch up on. But at least I have some friendly and furry company.

#Blog Tour and #Book Review: The Inn At Tansy Falls

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Dearest Nell, if you’re reading this letter, I’m already gone. You’re my best friend in the world, and as my last request I’m asking you to lay me to rest hundreds of miles away, in my crazy gorgeous, totally one-of-a-kind hometown of Tansy Falls. I know you’re a born-and-bred city girl, but hear me out. After first losing Adrian, and then me… I know your heart is hurting, Nell. I think you’ll find that you need Tansy Falls as much as I do.

So, I’ve got it all planned out. For two weeks, you’ll be staying at the sweet, local inn and every day you’ll be trying something new. And if you follow my instructions to the letter, you may discover there’s more to my story than you think. A surprise something… or someone at the end of it? Only you can find out!

Some last advice before you set off, Nell. Don’t forget your sturdy boots and make sure to give Boomer, the inn’s resident dog, a belly rub from me. Stay well away from former quarterback Brody Knott (boy, do I have some stories about him!). And finally, let the future bring what it brings. While Tansy Falls may look small, I know better than anyone that new beginnings can be found in all kinds of places. That little Vermont town you’d never heard of? Well, it might suddenly begin to feel just like coming home…

If you love feel-good love stories by ReaAnne Thayne, Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr, you’ll adore this gorgeous, heart-warming novel about starting over.

BOOK REVIEW

     Nell's life is filled with grief and turmoil.  A long-term relationship is over and her best friend Megan has just passed away due to cancer.  Megan leaves Nell a letter requesting that Nell scatter her ashes in the town of Tansy Falls, Vermont, where she spent time as a child.  Nell, a London accountant, travels to Tansy Falls to fulfill Meg's wishes.  Meg's request is accompanied by a two-week itinerary of things she wants Nell to do while she is here.  Some tasks are more difficult than others, but Nell begins a journey that will introduce her to new people and new experiences.

    This is a beautiful book about love,  friendship,  and starting over.  Megan's letter and the tasks she has prepared for Nell take her on a journey in the midst of her grief.  Even as Meg's life is ending, she sends her beloved friend on an adventure to help her learn to live again.   This is a heartwarming book that I would recommend to all.

     The Inn At Tansy Falls is only 99 cents on Kindle right now at the link below!  That's a great buy.

     I received a free copy of this Book from Bookouture via Netgalley.  My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cate Woods made the most of her university degree in Anglo-Saxon Literature by embarking on a career making tea on programmes including The Big Breakfast, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and French & Saunders. After narrowly missing out on the chance to become a Channel 5 weather girl, she moved into the world of magazine journalism, then ghostwriting and now writes novels under her own name. She has written two best-selling romantic comedies – Just Haven’t Met You Yet and More Than a Feeling – and a festive novel, The Christmas Guest, under the name Daisy Bell. Cate lives in London with her husband and two children.

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BOOKOUTURE BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Book Review: Finding Home

Mim is homeless and living in her car until she meets Bill and Bea and does them a favor that changes her life. Finding herself welcomed into their large, well-to-do family, Mim is overwhelmed by their generosity. Can she forget her past, allow herself some happiness, and start a new life?

This is a fun, easy romance with the theme of reaching out to those who need a helping hand. I was happy to meet the well written characters, and the sandy beaches of Devon (Southwest England) make for a captivating setting. This is straightforward book with a simple message. There is no complicated plot and and no mystery to figure out, but in this case that is not a bad thing. This is a very positive book about helping others, receiving help, and giving back. 

I would recommend this book to all, because helping others is a universal message.

I received a free copy of this book from Harper Collins UK (One More Chapter) via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Field

Kate Field lives in Lancashire, England, with her husband, daughter and cat. Her debut novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.

Kate can be contacted on Twitter @katehaswords or through her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KateFieldAuthor/.

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AMAZON

Once Upon a Rhyme

Dylan or “Oskie” has experienced great loss even prior to the recent passing of his father, Hollis, who was also his long-time coach.  This loss has made him hesitate to move forward, especially in love.  While cleaning out his father’s belongings, Oskie finds a book of poems written by his father.  As he begins to read them, memories come flooding back and he truly sees the importance of his father’s words.   Linda, his best friend’s Mom, also figures in the story and gives him a great example to follow. As a remarkable week passes and Dylan studies his father’s words, he learns three lessons that help him make sense of it all.

This is a heart-touching story about memories shared, lives lost, and the love that remains afterwards. It reminds us that memories can be so good that they hurt, and that it’s better to feel the hurt than shut out the memories.  I really connected with the character Linda, who lost her son to suicide.   She makes me think of a woman I personally know who lost her entire family, including her children, and yet she just radiates love, because she knows the secret.  Love is it.  It’s the only thing we take with us and the only thing that keeps growing after we die.

There are also two great adoptions in this story. Dylan’s son “Turbo” has already been adopted, and another adoption story begins to unfold. Coaching and sports figure heavily in this story as well. Dylan has followed in his father’s footsteps as a coach.

My only criticism is, in my opinion, there were too many nicknames for a fairly short story and I wasn’t fond of some of the nicknames.  I would advise readers to check the glossary of nicknames in the front of the book in order to avoid confusion.  However, that being said, this is a heartfelt story of love, loss, and lessons learned.   I would recommend it to all.  You can buy this story on Amazon for only 99 cents.  

I received a free gift copy from the author.  My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHECK OUT THE AVERAGE MAN’S ADVENTURE PODCAST BY THE AUTHOR TONY SARAGAS

MY AMAZON REVIEW (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

The Choice I Made

REVIEW–BONNIE READS AND WRITES

Julie’s mother has had a stroke, and for weeks her father has said she is doing fine, but when Julie arrives for a weekend at their family’s Wisconsin resort, Wood Violet, she finds that her mother is not doing well and is not mobile. Despite the objections of her husband Tristan, Julie decides to stay and help out with her mother and the business for the summer. When she meets teenage Margaret, who is staying in an abandoned cabin and searching for her biological mother, Julie develops a connection with her. She also reconnects with her old friends, including her ex-boyfriend Chase. But secrets and lies come to the surface. Will it break them all apart?

This is was nice family story about supporting each other in the hard times and what happens when you don’t. Margaret’s search for her mother with Julie’s help is interesting. Julie’s connection to the woods, the cabins, and the area are heartfelt and believable, as is her strong desire to protect her family. However, the character Tristan is quite over the top. There were surprises that were not all that hard to figure out, but all in all this was an enjoyable family story with a touch of mystery and romance. Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cynthia Ellingsen

Cynthia Ellingsen is an Amazon Charts bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction. Her books feature heartwarming characters and strong family connections, often with a touch of mystery. The Starlight Cove series, her best-known work, is available on audio and has been translated into several languages.

Cynthia began her writing career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles and now lives in Kentucky with her family.

https://www.cynthiaellingsen.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cynthiaellingsen

https://twitter.com/CynEllingsen

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TOUR ARRANGED BY BOOKOUTURE

Father and Sun

*Promo only–Not A Review

This is a book promo only. I haven’t read it, but check out the book trailer! It looks good. Links to buy are below.

Father&Sun

Welcome to the blog tour for Father & Sun by Ross Victory! Read on for more details! FrontFather & Sun Publication Date: December 20th, 2020 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Some say family is everything. Some say family are just people we’re assigned to at birth.

Trey Amana, a forty-something, hardworking father of two, discovered his dad’s death five years ago on the day after Christmas. Although Trey has grieved and prioritized his health, holiday music and decorations trigger painful memories. To take the final step toward healing the loss while saving extra cash for his holiday-obsessed kids, Trey decides to close his late father’s storage unit once and for all.

Trey discovers a journal written during his father’s college years. His dad, Art, reveals an outrageous family secret driving Trey into a wormhole of suspicions. With family members en-route to Trey’s home, Trey is burdened by the need for answers while somehow producing a hospitable Christmas.

Father & Sun explores how secrets and well-meaning motivations from the past can have a counteractive generational impact.

Father & Sun contemplates life in the shadows or life standing on the Sun (owning one’s truth), speaking to the passing of the torch from father to son, what it means to be honorable, and the spiritual, emotional, and mental effect on heirs.

​Core topics: Family, Generational Curses

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Available on Amazon! About the Author Ross Victory Smile Ross Victory is a singer/songwriter turned author from Southern California. After the back to back loss of his father and brother, Ross dove into self-discovery and healing practices, which reignited his passion for writing and music production. Ross uses his unique voice and social intersections to inspire and entertain listeners and readers through Urban Adult Contemporary music, and literature, with a focus on non-fiction and thematic novelettes and short stories.

Ross Victory | Instagram | Goodreads

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